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Ben Stone -- 1933-1994.
Dr. Benjamin Stone, well-known expert on the flora of Southeast Asia, died on March 19, 1994, in Manila.

Dr. Stone was the world's leading expert on the Pandanaceae (Screwpine family), Rutaceae (Citrus family), and the Myrsinaceae (Myrsine family). Interested in the floristics and biogeography of the Southeast Asian, Australasian, and Pacific regions, his career included development of herbaria and botanical libraries, academic training for aspiring plant taxonomists, and involvement with tropical forest conservation.

Inspiring, open-minded, possessing a considerable ability to relate to friends and students with humanity, humor, and enthusiasm, Dr. Stone was more than just a great botanist; he was also a jazz flutist, music aficionado, photographer, water colorist, model plane enthusiast, raconteur, teacher, mentor, and devoted family man.

His inspiring scholarship and untiring dedication contributed greatly to the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) and the Philippine National Museum's success in completing the first part of the Philippine Plant Inventory and the beginning of the second part. Dr. S. H. Sohmer, his longtime friend, collaborator on the Flora of the Philippines Project (FPP), and Director of BRIT, said, "I have never met anyone who had less interest in material possessions and trappings, or who had as high a degree of scientific knowledge, moral integrity, and intellectual curiosity."

Stone was born in Shanghai, China in July 1933 -- an only child of an American mother and an English father who worked for the civil authorities. Anticipating the coming troubles, his mother took him to the U.S. and settled in San Diego. His father was interned in a camp in Japan and was not reunited with his family until the close of the war.

Stone's education began in the San Diego area with primary and secondary schooling. He went on to earn a B.A. in Botany from Pomona College and a Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii in 1960. He served as research assistant in the Department of Botany at the U.S. National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian from 1960-61. He moved to the College (now University) of Guam as Professor of Biology, 1961-65. At this time he wrote the Flora of Guam. Wishing to master the flora of Micronesia, he accepted a position at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He served there until 1984 when he returned to the U.S. to take the Chairmanship of the Department of Botany of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, a position he held until 1990 when he joined the Flora of the Philippines Project as the Principal Investigator for the Phillipine Plant Inventory.

Dr. Stone was the author or editor of 300 articles and books, and his reputation as a pandan worker was unsurpassed. As a result of his interest, encouragement, and voluminous correspondence, scores of students entered the study of botany. He made significant collections (numbering more than 18,000), including type specimens in almost every area of Micronesia and Australia as well as East Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, and many states of the U.S.

Dr. Stone recently wrote, "...we can potentially identify trends that are no doubt occurring in many of the earth's tropical regions, such as irreversible soil changes, loss of forest-dependent species, and more violent cyclical changes in temperature and humidity...knowledge of these trends will aid in efforts to conserve our remaining global biodiversity and to link data on habitat destruction more closely to that on species losses of fauna and flora."

Article copyright American Botanical Council.


By Barbara Johnston